LAHORE – A mega scam involving irregularities worth billions of rupees and illegal recruitments in the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution reached Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday.

Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan sought report from Chairman EOBI, who is also a brother of PPP’s MNA and federal government on petition revealing irregularities allegedly made by the chairman.

Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) Board of Trustee member Syed Imran Ali Shah through his counsel Saif-ul-Malook filed the petition by submitting that EOBI was defined under Employees Old-age Benefits Act 1976.

The petition said that the object of legislation of the impugned Act was to take care of the labour class of the country working with industries, factories, hotels, clubs etc. The funds of the institutions are self-generated through contribution of the employees and some matching grant by the Federal Government. It clarifies that after 1995, no grant whatsoever has been given by the government.

According to the Act, nothing can be done either to invest the funds of the institution or for purchase of properties or shares for raising funds to meet the old-age pension without approval of the Board. But, chairman EOBI Zafar Iqbal Gondal, brother of PPP former federal minister for Nazar Muhammad Gondal, had invested the funds of institution without giving any importance to Act and ignoring the reservations of board members. The petition said that Chairman Zafar Gondal recruited about 200 officers violating the merit and approval of lawful authority.

It further pointed out that during the tenure, chairman had purchased land from DHA Islamabad in Phase-2, for an amount of Rs.15, 743,700,000 by ignoring the serious objections of institution’s Financial Advisor Imdad Ali Sheikh. The objection letter written by advisor speaks that  the fund position for the year 2010-11 was Rs199,604,000,000 and it was also mentioned that only 12.5% of the total funds can be invested in real estate business which comes to Rs.24,950,500,000. But, the chairman invested the funds of poor people by ignoring the financial advices and funds position just to gain kickbacks. It further speaks that Rs24, 131,716,100 had already been invested in the real estate business and there was no need to invest more funds.

 The petitioner submitted that the wish for gaining the more kickbacks did not stop as the chairman had also entered into an agreement to purchase by violating the department rules and boards approval a land measuring 40-Kanal 16-Marlas in Mauza Sehjpal, Lahore Cant against Rs1, 437,000,000 and in pursuance of the agreement, an amount of Rs43, 110,000 had also been paid to the Cantonment Board as land registration fee. The petitioner further reveal before the LCH that two other properties had also been purchased in utter disregard to the directions of federal government and constitutional provisions by the chairman against Rs33,40,000.

Under 18th constitutional amendment, the petitioner told the court that the department of Employees Old-age Benefits Act, 1976 was excluded from the concurrent list and was given to the provinces but the federal government through a single notification had given the said department under the control of Human Resources Development (HRD) division which is not a constitutional body and was clear violation of constitution. He contended that the chairman was in try to constitute a new board of trustee in order to conceal his corruption and malpractices because board members are now raising voices against the irregularities. He requested the LHC to issue direction to any independent investigation agency for probing the illegalities in plundering the billions of rupees belonging to the retired old-age labourers. He also prayed to restrain the chairman from setting up new boards and declare the notification to give under control of HRD as null a void.

After recording arguments, the court issued notices to HRD, chairman and secretary law and justice division, sought report with in two weeks.